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Our Top 10 Picks for Best DTP Tools in 2023

What impacts the quality of translation and localization services? The team, the process, the knowledge and experience and the tools you use. The same applies to desktop publishing providers. Not only do the tools impact the quality, they actually make the DTP work possible.

During the 20+ years in the localization business, providing DTP services to the biggest LSPs in the industry, we have worked on many tools, some great, some of them, well, less great. Over the years we’ve also received several questions from our customers regarding the tools we use and the recommendations we can make. Depending on projects, we use a variety of tools and software, there’s no one tool for all projects, and the ability to decide which one to use in specific project is crucial. There is, however, a certain number of tools we consider our Top 10 DTP tools.

#1 Adobe FrameMaker

A widely used localization industry flag tool used for authoring and publishing multilingual technical content making it suitable for desktop, mobile, web and print. Adobe FrameMaker has been our tool-to-go for years and is still considered across our team to be one of the most reliable, stabile and best working tool for technical documentation localization. Whenever we take on a project from our LSP customers, we strive for excellence and Adobe FrameMaker helps us make it possible.

This is our first choice-tool, however, there are customers who have their own preferences when it comes to tools. We stay open to their needs, but whenever it is possible, we offer our insight and experience in the aspects of which tool is best for a certain type of content. Whether you decide to partner up with a professional desktop publishing provider, or you have your own in-house team of DTP professionals, trust us when we say: technical documentation? Go for Adobe FrameMaker.

#2 Adobe InDesign

When it comes to translation and localization it’s not only the technical documentation that desktop publishing is about. Most business entrepreneurs with an ambition to globally grow their business decide to translate and localize their marketing and promotional content such as brochures and flyers. Working on the content and making sure it corresponds with company logo, animated characters or any other additional designs can be a challenge, unless you decide to use Adobe InDesign.

In the publishing industry Adobe InDesign is also an efficient and reliable tool. Magazines, books regardless of whether they are in print or digital, need to be properly translated and localized to match the specific language, locale and brand’s layout requirements.

Whether you localize marketing materials, pre and post-sales content, a promotional brochure, a book or a magazine, if you’re looking to work on a reliable and efficient tool, Adobe InDesign should be the tool of your choice. It certainly is for us.

#3 Adobe Photoshop

When you translate content that includes graphics or animated gifs, Adobe Photoshop is the photo and design software worth considering. Although in layman’s world it seems to be a tool used to make funny memes or graphics of Mr. Bean look like Chuck Norris, in localization industry it is an established and recognized tool.

It’s an efficient tool to use for creating graphics and adapting them to specific layout requirements as well as creating and working on logos, website designs and any type of digital art that supports business companies in their worldwide expansion. And since your translation and localization services are one of the most crucial factors in your customers’ growth, making sure graphics, regardless of their type and use, are created in localized efficiently and perfectly should be one of your focus points.

Over the years, working in desktop publishing services, we have found that Adobe Photoshop makes for a reliable, easy to use and efficient tool not only when it comes to adapting graphics, logos and other visual details of the content we work on. Whenever we need to work directly in applications, Adobe Photoshop makes for a great support as well.

#4 Adobe Illustrator

While Adobe Photoshop is used for photo editing, whether it’s retouching or a larger photo art, Adobe Illustrator is recommended for creating vector graphics. This is to do with mathematical aspect of graphic design such as points, lines and shapes rather than pixels.

When working on desktop publishing project for graphic compositions, we use Adobe Illustrator to create small graphics, linked directly to translated manual instructions, and to create larger, stand-alone publications.

Depending on the type of graphic design we work on, we decide on whether to use Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. When you contact your DTP providers, make sure they know exactly what type of graphics you will need them to handle and ask about the tool they use. Your delivery time depends on it.

#5 QuarkXPress

QuarkXPress is, in our opinion a software worth having. It is used to produce layouts from small single-page flyers to large projects for magazines, catalogs and so on. Even though we haven’t received large numbers of requests for projects involving this tool, there are certain clients coming to us with documentation created using this software.

Despite its few disadvantages, QuarkXPress is still useful to consider it for its features such as functionality of font, alignment, spacing and color as well as professional typesetting options. It offers also support for e-books, Web and mobile applications, which is a relevant aspect when it comes to projects like website translation or software localization.

#6 Figma and Articulate Rise

Yes, you see correctly. We could not decide on just one, simply because they are both equally good and equally useful tools that support basically the same aspects of DTP.

Both Figma and Articulate Rise are real-time collaboration tools which allow multiple member teams to work on one large-scale project, regardless of the location they are in. This makes them best for time-efficiency and deliverability supporting tools we have worked on. Both of the authoring tools are a must-have for any desktop publishing provider worth their salt. And, if you for any reason, decide to work on DTP projects in-house, consider those to your must-haves too.

#7 MadCap Flare

In technical translation it is important to deliver as accurately localized content as possible. It is different to, for instance, marketing translation, where transcreation is allowed and even recommended. Imagine having a technical documentation translation project involving 10 languages. When it comes to translation, you will need linguists for all of those languages.

But, for desktop publishing that needs to be done on the content, you can create different outputs from the same files translated once. All you need is the right tool which, in this case, is MadCap Flare.

Your customers, when growing globally, want to maximize their content reuse and simplify the creation of their technical documentation, in any language they desire. You are there for them to do so. With the support of your DTP partner and the right tools, of course.

#8 Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate

Every localization service provider needs tools that are localization-friendly. This goes without saying. And so does every desktop publishing provider that delivers services to LSPs.

For e-learning localization projects two of such localization-friendly tools are Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate.

When delivering DTP services for e-learning localization, we rely on Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate equally, due to their ability to adapt to screens of multiple devices and easy-to-use features that make the DTP process smooth and efficient.

Why both of them? As previously, depending on the project and our customers’ preferences, we choose the best tool we see fit. For e-learning we’ve found that both these tools are efficient, easy to use and help us handle any e-learning localization projects almost effortlessly.

We value our LSPs timescales and we deliver the localization ready product on time. Articulate Storyline and Adobe Captivate certainly help us keep that tendency intact.

#9 Adobe Premiere Pro

Since we not only deliver DTP services for technical documentation translation and promotional or marketing materials localization, but also for e-learning and multimedia localization, we consider Adobe Premiere Pro to be a real asset to our wide pool of desktop publishing tools and software.

This is a software that will help create stunning multimedia content in an easy and localization-friendly way which again, in localization industry, is the key to successful and efficient deliverability.

#10 Adobe After Effects

Video post-edition is one of the key aspects of DTP services for multimedia localization projects. We use a motion graphics software, Adobe After Effects, to edit text included in multimedia directly on-screen. This allows us to save on time and efforts and significantly reduce the delivery time that we offer to our LSP customers.

Again, your localization projects need to go out to your client within the agreed timescales and we are there to help you make it happen. When it comes to multimedia localization, it is crucial to have the right tool to make sure the video content is handled and edited not only perfectly, matching the language requirements, but also in time for it to make successful entrance into the market targeted by your customer.

This is the Top 10 list of our most preferable desktop publishing tools, however, this is not a definite one. During the 20 years in language industry, providing DTP services to multiple language services providers all over the world, we learned a few things to consider when it comes to the DTP tool choice:

  • Always keep an open mind to what the technology has to offer. Never forget that change is the only constant in the world. New does not mean better or worse. Try it and then asses.
  • It is important to listen to what our customers have to say and what they need and it means listening about the tools they prefer too. Conversation is the key to successful collaboration.
  • It is important what the customers expect and provide in terms of files they send, type of content and so on.
  • In delivery of any desktop publishing project, time is of the essence and working on graphic design cannot slow us down. Choose the software that will streamline your process, enhance your quality and speed up our delivery time instead of slowing it down.

Whichever tool you decide to use, make sure these are the points you refer to, when you you’re your choice, unless you decide to trust an experienced DTP partner. Then it’s up to them to ask the right questions, refer to those points, choose the tool and deliver the read product to you, enabling you to score another win with your customer. Which option will you choose?

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